Several European leaders and top French officials have rushed to self-isolate after President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, perturbing political agendas across the continent.
A flurry of contact-tracing followed France's confirmation that Macron had become the latest world leader to contract Covid-19, following the likes of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump.
42-year old Macron was tested after the "onset of the first symptoms" and is now self-isolating for seven days in the presidential residence La Lanterne in the former royal city of Versailles, west of Paris.
He is suffering from fever, cough and fatigue, officials with the presidency announced on Friday.
"He will continue to work and carry out his activities remotely," his office said in a statement issued Thursday.
The timing is awkward for Macron, who is trying to handle the pandemic crisis in France while keeping a close eye on Brexit talks and a host of other international issues.
Macron attended an EU summit in Brussels last week and the government suggested he may have become infected at that time. On Monday went to a conference in Paris organised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
European Council president Charles Michel and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez were both at the Paris conference and are isolating.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa has also gone into self-isolation and cancelled all immediate events on his agenda after having lunch with Macron on Wednesday.
Macron has cancelled a scheduled trip to Lebanon, where he had been pressing for far-reaching political change after a giant explosion at Beirut's port in August.
'Defeat pandemic together'
Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel began isolating on Thursday pending a test result after he had attended the EU summit last week.
But a German government spokeswoman said Chancellor Angela Merkel took a test a few days after the EU summit and it was negative.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex will self-isolate after contact with Macron, his office said, adding that he was showing no symptoms and had tested negative.
He needs another confirmed negative result before he can come out of isolation next week, his office said.
Macron's wife Brigitte will be self-isolating at the Elysée palace, but also shows no symptoms.
Fellow world leaders rushed to wish Macron a speedy recovery.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was with Macron "with all my heart".
"We are going to defeat this pandemic together," she said on Twitter. "We will continue to work hand in hand to immunise and protect our citizens."
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had learnt of Maron's positive test "with alarm" and wished his French counterpart a "speedy recovery and good health for many years to come".
Infections still high
Macron had repeatedly urged caution against the spread of the virus and in public he always wears a face mask covering his mouth and nose.
France earlier this week eased restrictions imposed to battle the second wave of the coronavirus but infection rates remain high.
There is still a nationwide overnight curfew from 8:00 pm to halt the spread of the virus while restaurants and cafes as well as theatres and cinemas remain closed.
Over 59,300 people have died in France since the start of the pandemic.
More than 17,000 new cases were registered on Wednesday alone, generating concern as people shop and travel ahead of the Christmas holidays.
Like other EU countries, France is pinning its hopes on a vaccine and Castex said on Wednesday the country will receive 1.16 million doses by the end of the year.
Castex said the start of the vaccine campaign was conditional on approval from the European Medicines Agency, expected on December 21.
Von der Leyen said on Thursday that the EU would start inoculations on December 27.
Another problem for the French authorities is that according to an opinion poll, only 53 percent of people want to be vaccinated, among the lowest rates in the world.